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WI EPHT
PO Box 2659
Rm 150
Madison, WI 53703
dhsdphepht@
wi.gov

Environmental Health Survey of Local Health Departments

In April 2008, the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking (WI EPHT) program conducted a survey of local health departments (LHD) to gather information about their environmental health data capacity and data needs. It focused on environmental contaminants and health effects rather than infectious diseases. 

The survey was distributed to LHD Officers and the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards-Environmental Health group. The survey requested that at least one person from a LHD complete the survey. Forty seven survey responses were received that represented 51 LHD and 39 counties. 

The survey helped WI EPHT assess these items in the LHD environmental health program:  

  • Currently collected data, which could be considered for inclusion on the network 

  • The current environmental and related chronic disease data needs 

  • The tools and abilities to be provided through the network to LHDs are needed 

Respondents were simply asked to type their responses into a free form field. If a respondent chose to not type anything into the field, this was recorded as a non-response. Also, because the respondent filled in a free form, the answers were not uniform. The results below give the most popular items suggested under each of the topics asked in order to summarize the responses. 

  1. What environmental health data is currently collected? 

    • Water Quality 

      • Beach Sampling 

      • Private Well Water 

    • Indoor Air Quality 

      • Radon 

      • Mold 

      • Complaints 

    • Outdoor Air Quality 

      • Complaints 

      • Ozone Monitor 

    • Other Environmental 

      • Food Safety 

      • Human Health Hazards 

      • Animal Bites 

    • Chronic Disease 

      • Cancer 

      • Nursing Unit 

      • Birth Defects 

    • Poisonings 

      • Lead 

      • CO 

    • Other Health 

      • Rabies exposure 

      • Vector Borne Diseases 

  2. What environmental information and data would help you perform your environmental health duties? 

    • Water Quality 

      • Private Well Results 

      • GIS Data Plotting 

    • Indoor Air Quality 

      • Mold Training 

      • Access to Additional Testing 

    • Outdoor Air Quality 

      • GIS data plotting 

      • Human Health Hazard Training 

    • Other Environmental Data Needs 

      • Manure Run Off Data 

      • Restaurant Information 

  3. What heath information and data would help you to perform your environmental health duties?

    • Chronic Disease 

      • Asthma 

      • Cancer Registry 

      • Trend Data 

    • Poisonings 

      • Lead 

      • Pesticide 

      • Carbon monoxide 

    • Other Health Data Needs 

      • Cluster Illness 

      • Emerging disease 

  4. What tools or abilities would help you perform your EH job responsibility? 

    • Map data: 83% 

    • Perform statistical analysis: 64% 

    • Graph data: 68% 

The WI EPHT program is using these data to prioritize future topic areas for the public and secure portals. The input was valuable and will help reinforce the data requests WI EPHT negotiates with its partners. There were a number of suggestions for data at the health department level, not just county level. Currently the program is able to meet this request for childhood lead poisoning data. The WI EPHT will continue work to make this possible for additional topic areas. In addition, the responses provided will assist in our risk communication of the information to the general public, e.g., interpretation of how exposure affects a person's health, or policy and procedures for taking action. 

Whenever appropriate, the WI EPHT program has shared the results with other programs within and outside of the Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health. In this way, the information collected can be used to inform their activities. Additionally, the responses will be used to guide the selection of topic areas that are addressed in local, regional and statewide conferences.

Last Revised: August 21, 2014